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Iowa Baseball takes weekend series over No. 18 UC Irvine

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The Hawks take their sixth straight series win, but again can’t close on Sunday

Hawkeye Sports

After another weekend that featured a series victory for the Iowa Baseball team, this time over the No. 18 ranked UC Irvine, the Hawkeyes have entered the Top 25, coming in at No. 24 for the week of May 6.

The recognition comes on the heels of Iowa taking its sixth consecutive series win, this time over a non-conference, Top 25 ranked opponent. The Hawkeyes took game one, 6-3 and game two 1-0, before falling to the Anteaters in a 15-4 romping on Sunday. The wins were Iowa’s eighth and ninth wins of the year over top 30 opponents, and the Hawkeyes now have a 29-17 record on the year. Iowa’s series win also put them into third place in the conference, moving past Nebraska who the Hawkeyes beat in a weekend series two weeks ago.

Let’s break it down.

Game 1: Iowa 6, UC Irvine 3 (Box score)

Sophomore Izaya Fullard was the story here, thanks to a 3-3 performance where he hit two home runs and brought home three total scorers. But it was Chris Whelan who gave Iowa its first run of the day in the first after he got an early double and was brought home thanks to an RBI from Connor McCaffery (who’s having himself a nice season!).

Fullard proceeded to hit his first home run of the day in the third inning. Iowa’s 2-0 lead was aided by starting pitcher Cole McDonald, who pitched for seven innings and only allowed two runs in his final inning. He did find himself in a jam with the bases loaded in the fourth, but a double play from Tanner Wetrich prevented the Anteaters from cutting into the Hawkeye lead.

From there, Fullard hit his second home run of the day in the fifth to score two assurance runs, and the the Hawks scored two more in the eighth just to make sure the Anteaters couldn’t rally.

Game 2: Iowa 1, UC Irvine 0 (Box score)

Iowa’s bats were quiet in this game until the fifth inning, where the Hawks scored their lone run of the game. Tanner Padgett hit a double after the UC Irvine right fielder couldn’t make the catch because of the sun in his eyes. Padgett was hit home by Tanner Wetrich and the rest was history. Iowa’s crew of relief pitchers were able to keep the Anteaters scoreless for the remaining four innings, and Iowa locked up the series win on a one run afternoon.

Game 3: UC Irvine 15, Iowa 4 (Box score)

For the last few weekends, the Iowa offense has had games were they come alive and demolish their opponent. There was no such game this weekend. Instead, the Hawkeyes found themselves on the receiving end of that beatdown, losing to UC Irvine 15-4 thanks to a 9-run fifth inning from the Anteaters.

Norman brought Whelan home with an RBI in the first inning, giving Iowa an early one-run lead, but the Anteaters offense quickly came alive, scoring at least one run in every inning but the first and the seventh. Iowa’s pitchers struggled here, with starter Grant Judkins only lasting four innings in his shortest start of the season, where he allowed three runs (two earned) and six hits. But the relief pitching didn’t help either, with freshman Dunan Davitt getting feasted on to the tune of four earned runs, three hits and zero outs. Iowa had to go deep into its bullpen for this one, but nobody could stop the Anteater offense. Let’s just leave it at that.

“We just weren’t very good on the mound,” head coach Rick Heller told HawkeyeSports after the game. “It was as simple as that. We were getting some good at-bats off a good pitcher. We had some bad luck -- some line drives that were caught -- and they had a nice day. Things fell for them and found some holes.”

The Hawks are off this week for finals, and have their final home series of the year starting on Friday against Michigan State. The first pitch will occur at 6:05 p.m. God’s time, and all three games of the series will be available on BTNPlus.